Expert Answers: Enhance Your Photos with a First Look

Posted by Azure on February 18th, 2009
Special Feature from Forever Photography by Kylene

What I love about weddings is that they’re constantly evolving. From the big poofy sleeves and massive hair of the 80s, we’ve somehow developed into a sophisticated style where really anything goes. Weddings used to be full of traditional rules that had to be abided, and now it’s up to the couple how they want to portray their new love.

One of the most traditional things about a wedding is the bride’s walk down the aisle to see her groom for the first time. Most girls have dreamed about that moment since they were three years old. So why mess with a good thing, right? Lots of reasons. It is becoming more popular and accepted for couples to have a “first look”– to see each other hours before the ceremony, have a private moment between the two of them, and have lots of pictures taken. As a wedding photographer, I have seen this trend become more and more popular and I couldn’t be more excited about it. Here’s why you should consider it too: • Despite the preconceived notion that the “magic” moment should happen when you walk down the aisle, it can almost be more magical to have that moment alone. During the ceremony you are the center of attention, in front of all of your guests – this doesn’t leave any chance to have a moment with each other. When you do this beforehand, you can have time to shed a few tears and laugh with each other. Your groom can check out your gorgeous dress, and you can even exchange gifts. My clients have told me it was more meaningful to have that private moment than the walk down the aisle. • It can help calm your nerves. You might be a calm and collected bride, but when it comes time to walk down the aisle, the nerves are bound to get to you. All of my clients who opted for a first look said that it helped to calm them down before the ceremony started and helped them enjoy the ceremony more. • As a photographer, my main reason behind wanting a first look is that it allows for LOTS of picture time! You can plan to see each other 3-4 hours prior to your ceremony, giving you tons of time to explore your venue and take lots of great pictures. You’re not rushed, which leads to more relaxed expressions. Just the fact that your photographer will have two hours instead of 30 minutes is fantastic! • Your guests won’t be waiting at the reception for an hour while you take your pictures. The worst part of a wedding for guests is that long wait in between ceremony and reception. They can’t eat dinner until you arrive and they’re starving and wondering when you’ll get there! A first look is a great way to take that stress off of your guests. • Your guests are typically waiting on you during your cocktail hour. A great way to reduce your alcohol bill is to have a super-short cocktail hour, made possible by the first look! A wedding coordinator shared this with me and I thought it was a really smart way to look at things. • Some venues, such as parks and libraries, are open to the public during business hours, so your ceremony has to start at 5 or 6 p.m. Depending on the time of year, your ceremony may end after sunset, leaving you no natural light. If you’re having a late ceremony, you should definitely have a first look so you can utilize the natural beauty of sunlight before it’s all gone.

More and more of my clients are opting for a first look, and I’m lucky enough to be nearby to capture their first moments together. Here are a few of my favorite pictures taken during that time:

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